Neville prepared for Finals without Rooney

May 21, 2006

Gary Neville insists England can make a massive impact on the World Cup even if Wayne Rooney fails to recover from a broken metatarsal, and warned: 'You can't rely on one player.'

Defender Neville, who missed the last World Cup through injury, believes England 'have to plan for Wayne not being available' when the finals get underway in three weeks' time.

The 31-year-old is aware it will be the teams who cope best with injuries and suspensions who will emerge as serious challengers.

Neville said of his Manchester United team-mate, who faces a scan on Thursday: 'I think we will still have a very good squad even without Wayne.

'Wayne isn't here at present. The players on the pitch are the most important ones, the ones who are training, the ones who are fit.

'For the last World Cup, I wasn't available. I know everyone hopes Wayne will be available but we have to plan for him not to be available. We're certainly going to play the warm-up games without him.

'Every team during the tournament will suffer an injury or a suspension. They will suffer through loss of form or something will happen.

'You just have to cope with those things that will happen during the tournament.

'It's the same for every country in the World Cup. I think during the last World Cup, Brazil had Ronaldinho missing for the semi-final.

'You would say that's a great handicap but it still didn't stop them and you have to be good enough to cope with those things during a World Cup if you have aspirations of winning it.'

Neville, who has returned with his England colleagues from a training camp in Portugal, added: 'You can't rely on one team-mate. I don't think any of the players would say this is a one-man team.

'There is so much emphasis put by the media on one or two players. It's never like that when you are in a team situation. There are 23 players and you never think, `Oh, we all are depending on him.'

'You realise there are great players in your team. You know who they are but you never think of them as the be-all and end-all in terms of your chances of doing well and that's the same all the way through football history.

'There will always be a player picked out of a team that's a star but that's normally the media which does that. It's not the team itself. It's not the squad itself.'

Neville is relishing the prospect of what could be his last World Cup, although he is trying not to get too hyped up too soon for what could be eight weeks together as a squad if the ultimate prize is secured on July 9.

He said: 'If you're not excited about a World Cup, you shouldn't be a footballer. It doesn't get any less exciting the older you get.

'There's always a huge build-up and this is part of it, coming away with the team for three or four weeks.

'The thing I've probably learnt most from the previous tournaments is not to get too eager too quickly, because hopefully we can be together for eight weeks - and eight weeks is a long time.

'You can't be on a high all that time. You take your moments of rest and your moments away from football. The week in Portugal was one of those weeks.

'The World Cup is at the back of your mind but you're trying to think about nice things like good food and sun.

'Certainly once you get to the tournament, once you get to Germany, it's so intense, you haven't got time to think about anything else than football.

'It really is mentally draining and physically draining for every player who plays in that tournament.'